§ Mr. Atkinson
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what support his Department is proposing to provide for the research and development of the synergistic air-breathing and rocket engine; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Leigh
At present my Department has no plans to support the research and development of the synergistic air-breathing and rocket engine. There are many concepts for re-usable space launchers currently under study within Europe. What is clear is that any eventual development of such a vehicle will have to be collaborative, probably on a Europe-wide basis, if it is to be affordable. If, in the context of European collaboration, the European Space Agency were to propose a new optional technology support programme to explore such concepts as the synergistic air-breathing and rocket engine, the Government would be prepared to consider United Kingdom participation in such a programme.